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Council Grove Lake Recreation

Fishing and Hunting

Council Grove Lake is well known for providing excellent fishing opportunities.  The lake is best known for channel catfish and crappie fishing, but also has good populations of flathead catfish, white bass, saugeye and wipers with a lesser population of black bass. 

Creel and length limits follow statewide general regulations with the following exceptions:  the creel limit for crappie is 20, and there is an 18-inch length limit on wipers.  Council Grove is one of the lakes authorized for floatline fishing from July 15 through Sept. 15.  Fishermen should pay close attention to the new state regulations regarding bait fish and the transport of live fish.   Anglers should consult the Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary or visit www.kdwpt.state.ks.us for full fishing requirements and regulations.

Tackle, licenses and bait are available at the Council Grove Marina and various businesses in the town of Council Grove.  For more information on the marina, go to www.councilgrovemarina.com or call (620) 767-5924.  A fish cleaning station is located in Marina Cove.

Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the ice at Council Grove Lake.

Council Grove Lake has zebra mussels, so be sure to adhere to the principles of cleaning, draining, and drying your vessel, bilges,  livewells, and bait containers to avoid the spread of this invasive species.  More information is available at www.protectKSwaters.org

Council Grove Lake provides good hunting opportunities for white-tailed deer, turkey, waterfowl, quail, doves, rabbits and squirrels.

Nearly 2,000 acres of project lands are managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism as a Public Hunting Area.  This land is located on the Neosho River and Munkers Creek arms of the lake.  Lesser acreages of public hunting lands are managed by the Corps of Engineers outside the campgrounds and below the dam.  Some areas near the dam are limited to archery, shotgun and primitive firearms.  A hunting map is located elsewhere on this website.Non-toxic shot is required for waterfowl.  Hunters are cautioned that trapping is allowed on the public hunting area.  Hunters should consult the Kansas Hunting & Fur Harvesting Regulations Summary or visit www.kdwpt.state.ks.us for full hunting and trapping requirements and regulations.

Camping and Picnicking

Council Grove Lake has a variety of scenic and comfortable campgrounds to fit your needs and activities.

All campsites include a concrete slab with a picnic table, utility table, grill and/or fire ring.  Most sites have a sun shelter over the picnic table.  Nearly all sites have a parking pad for RV use, but can be occupied by tent campers as well.  A few sites lack a parking pad and are limited to tent campers. 

The federal America the Beautiful discount cards for seniors and disabilities are honored in our campgrounds.

Our three Class A campgrounds – Richey Cove, Santa Fe Trail and Canning Creek - offer the most amenities such as electrical and water hookups, flush toilets, showers, playgrounds, dump stations, boat ramps and wi-fi.  Most electrical service is 30-amp, although some 50-amp electrical sites are available.  It is recommended that these sites be reserved in advance.  Nearly all sites have water hookups.  Only a handful of sites have sewer hookups.  The Class A parks have security gates which are closed nightly.

Approximately 2/3 of the campsites in the Class A parks are available to be reserved in advance through the National Recreation Reservation Service (NRRS) at 1-877-444-6777 or by going online to www.recreation.gov

Fees for walk-in (without reservations) campers in the Class A parks are collected by gate attendants at the campground entrances.  Fees range from $17-$23 dollars per night depending on campsite location and amenities.

The Class A parks also offer group camping areas which may be reserved in advance through the NRRS.  All group camping areas offer a central covered picnic pavilion with tables, water, electricity, a fire ring and a large grill.  Capacities range from 10 to 20 units, and fees range from $80 to $200 per night.

Richey Cove has direct access off Highway 177. The address is 1268 Highway 177, Council Grove, Kansas. The GPS coordinates are N38 42.050’, W96 29.847’.  It has an abundance of shoreline sites, an “island” most suitable for tent camping, and the only designated swimming area on the lake. Gate attendants at Richey Cove may be reached by calling (620) 767-5800.

Canning Creek Cove is the largest and most expansive park.  The address is 1130 Lake Road, Council Grove, Kansas.  The GPS coordinates are N38 41.539’, W 96 32.237’. It is noted for its three group camping areas, two of which offer full hookups (50-amp electric, water and sewer) for 16 and 20 camping units respectively.  Gate attendants at Canning Creek Cove may be reached by calling (620) 767-6745.

Santa Fe Trail is noted for its scenic timbered shoreline and its proximity to the Council Grove Marina.  The address is 1026 Lake Road, Council Grove, Kansas.  The GPS coordinates are N38 40.897’,  W96 31.489’. Gate attendants at Santa Fe Trail may be reached by calling (620) 767-7125.

Council Grove Lake has five additional Class C Parks – Kit Carson, Marina Cove, Neosho Park, Kanza View and Custer Park.  For the most part, these parks lack shower buildings, dump stations and the amenities of the Class A parks.  Fees range from $8-$19 per night.  None of the campsites in the Class C Parks can be reserved in advance.

Marina Cove is located next to Santa Fe Trail campground and houses the Council Grove Marina. Three of the four sites have 30-amp electrical service, but there are no individual water hookups.  The bathroom facility is a masonry vault toilet.  The fees at Marina Cove are collected by a roving gate attendant.  In addition to the Corps of Engineers campsites, the owner of the Council Grove Marina also offers about a dozen campsites which have electrical service and water hookups.  For more information on these sites go to www.councilgrovemarina.com

Neosho Park is located closest to the Corps of Engineers Office.  It offers 30-amp electrical service, but no individual water hookups.  The boat ramp is one of the busiest on the lake. Bathroom facilities are masonry vault toilets.  The fees are collected by a roving gate attendant.

Kanza View is located at the east end of the dam.  It is located on a bluff and affords some of the more scenic views of the lake.  There is no electricity and no individual water hookup.  Lack of parking pads makes this park more suitable for tent camping.  The bathroom facililty is a masonry vault toilet.  There is no boat ramp. Fees are paid at a self-pay station located within the park.

Kit Carson is the most developed Class C park with 30-amp electrical service, water hookups and a shower building.  Kit Carson may be accessed directly from Highway 177.  The fees are collected by a roving gate attendant.

Custer Park  lacks electricity and individual water hookups.  The bathroom facilities are masonry vault toilets.  Like Kanza View, it has an attractive setting located on a bluff.  The sites are most suitable for tent camping.  The park has direct access from Highway 177.  Fees are paid at a self-deposit station located at the boat ramp.

Unoccupied campsites may be used for picnicking as long as there is not an incoming camping reservation (check the campsite marker).  Picnicking is free of charge.  In the interest of cleanliness, large groups may be asked to provide legal identification (driver’s license) from one responsible person. Picnickers must leave the parks before 10:00 p.m.

Council Grove Lake also has three picnic pavilions which may be reserved in advance.  Two are located at Canning Creek Cove and one at Kanza View.  Capacity is limited to either 40 or 50 people.  Fees are $20 or $35 per day.  Users must depart at 10:00 p.m.  Unlike camping facilities, these picnic pavilions are reserved through the Council Grove Lake Office, (620) 767-5195.

Rules

  • Individual campsites are limited to 1 RV and 2 tents.  In the absence of an RV, three tents are allowed.  People capacity is 8 per site.
  • All pets must be on leashes.
  • Only tagged vehicles may be operated on park roads.
  • Quiet hours are from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
  • Vehicles must be parked on paved or gravel parking pads.
  • Discharge of grey water is prohibited.
  • Kegs and party balls are prohibited.

Boating

Whether your preferred water sport is pleasure boating, skiing, tubing, personal watercraft, or sailing, Council Grove Lake has over 3,000 acres of water to accommodate you.  There are a total of eight single-lane boat ramps located in Corps of Engineers campgrounds circling the main body of the lake.  In addition, there are two single-lane ramps maintained by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism located in the Council Grove Wildlife Area, along Munkers Creek and the Neosho River.  These two ramps are primarily used by fishermen.

If you are not camped at a Corps of Engineers campground, you are required to pay a day-use fee of $3.00 per day to use the Corps of Engineers ramps.  This fee may be paid to the campground gate attendant or at a self-deposit fee station at each ramp.  Annual day-use permits are also available – inquire at the campground gatehouse or at the lake office.

Boating is in accordance with Kansas State Boating Regulations.  More information is available at www.kdwpt.state.ks.us

Please note that buoyed ”No Wake” zones are found around each boat ramp, and a buoyed  ”Boat Exclusion Zone” is found around the Richey Cove swimming area and the Outlet Tower.

Life jackets for children (required to be worn onboard by all children under age 13) may be checked out free-of-charge from the gatehouses at Canning Creek Cove, Santa Fe Trail, and Richey Cove. 

Council Grove Lake has zebra mussels, so be sure to adhere to the principles of cleaning, draining, and drying your vessel to avoid the spread of this invasive species.  More information is available at www.protectKSwaters.org.

The north end of the Neosho River arm of the lake (north of Canning Creek campground) is very shallow.  In this area, it is recommended that you reduce speed and use a depthfinder.  The north end of the Munkers Creek arm of the lake (north of Richey Cove campground) is also shallow and has an uncleared area of standing and fallen timber.  These obstructions are not marked.  In this area, it is recommended that you reduce to idle speed and use a depthfinder.  Lakewide, floating logs (especially after a flood event) may present a boating hazard.  Keep a sharp lookout!

Fuel, oil, bait, tackle, equipment, slip rental, and boat rentals are available at the Council Grove Marina located in Marina Cove beside Santa Fe Trail Campground.  For more information on the marina, go to www.councilgrovemarina.com or call (620) 767-5924. 

Sightseeing

There are many venues for sightseers at Council Grove Lake beginning about a mile away in the historic town of Council Grove.  The National Historic District of Council Grove features more than 24 sites detailing Native American history, the Santa Fe Trail, and the early settlement of the community. These attractions include the Kaw Mission State Historic Site & Museum, Hermit’s Cave, the Hayes House, Custer Elm, Council Oak,  Post Office Oak and Museum, the Madonna of the Trail and Guardian of the Grove Statues to name a few.  More information can be found at www.councilgrove.com or by calling (620) 767-5882.

Council Grove is a northern starting point for the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway which follows Highway 177 for 48 miles to its southern terminus at Cassoday, KS.  This byway travels through vast expanses of rolling, grass covered hills, some of the best of the last remnants of the Tallgrass Prairie Ecosystem in North America.  Along this scenic drive are a number of points of interest including The Cassoday Museum, the Chase County Courthouse, and the Roniger Native American Museum.  For more information about the Kansas Flint Hills Scenic Byway, contact the Council Grove Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-732-9211 or 1-620-767-5882.

The feature point of the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway is the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, a component of the National Park Service.  This is located along Highway 177 about 16 miles south of Council Grove.  The preserve showcases the native tallgrass prairie as well as turn-of-the century ranching practices.  A feature of the preserve is the 11 room Second Empire style ranch house built in 1881 from hand-cut limestone.  The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve also offers a new visitor/interpretive center, ranch house tours, bus tours of the prairie, group tours, as well as front country and back country trails.  For information, call 620-273-8494, or go to the website at www.nps.gov/tapr.

A shorter, but equally scenic drive is the Mill Creek Scenic Drive which begins in Alta Vista, Kansas, (about  14 miles north of our lake) and extends to the community of Alma, Kansas (another 20 miles to the northeast).

Swimming

Campers may swim at their campsites if they choose.  However, the only designated swimming area on the lake is located at Richey Cove Campground.  This swimming area is surrounded by a floating boat exclusion pipe and marked by boat exclusion buoys.  Life jackets for children may be borrowed while using the swimming area from a loaner board located on the beach.

Pets and glass bottles are not allowed on the beach or in the swimming area.  Children younger than age 16 must be accompanied by an adult.   Keep a close eye on your children – there are no lifeguards.  The swimming area may be used from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.

If you are not camped in a Corps of Engineers campground, there is a day-use fee of $1 per person (over the age of 12) per day.  This day-use fee may be paid at the campground gatehouse or at a self-deposit fee station located at the swimming beach.  Annual passes are also available.  Inquire at the gatehouse.

Council Grove Lake has zebra mussels which have very sharp edges on their shells.  It is recommended that footwear be worn while swimming and wading.

Trails

Council Grove Lake is located in the Flint Hills region of Kansas. This region is dominated by the tallgrass prairie ecosystem, which is one of the most endangered ecosystems in North America. Nationally, only about three percent of the tallgrass prairie remains, and the majority is located in the Flint Hills of Kansas.

Our lakeshore is wooded with trees which would be found along the rivers and streams of the Flint Hills including cottonwoods, willows, sycamores, hickories, oaks, walnut, elm, locust and ash.  

A noted feature of our lake is the Pioneer Nature Trail which is a component of the National Recreation Trails system. The trailhead and parking area are just west of the Corps of Engineers Lake Office. The trail is 1.24 miles in length with a width of six feet and is moderate in difficulty.  The surface is grass and native vegetation.  The trail, built in 1981, is mostly upland woodlands, but the Buffalo Wallow loop is located on the tallgrass prairie that is home to many different wildflowers and native grasses.  This loop also contains remnants of wallows that were created by the bison that once roamed this area. Several interpretive signs are found along the trail.  For more information, go to the website: www.americantrails.org/nationalrecreationtrails/trailNRT/Pioneer-Nature-Trail-KS.html.

Much shorter and unimproved walking trails link Richey Cove and Kit Carson Campgrounds on the east side of the lake, and group shelter 1 to the gatehouse at Canning Creek Cove campground on the west side of the lake.

Other trails in the area are located at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, a component of the National Park Service, which is located about 16 miles south of the lake.  For more information, go to www.nps.gov/tapr